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‘Network security incident’ shuts down Joplin city computers

July 8, 2021 GMT

JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) — Law enforcement officers and a cybersecurity firm have been called in to investigate a “network security incident” that caused Joplin city government’s computer system to shut down, officials said Thursday.

The computer problem was discovered early Wednesday and the systems were not operating as of Thursday afternoon.

The affected system was isolated and investigators were quickly called in, city spokeswoman Lynn Onstot said in a news release Thursday.

“As we investigate the incident and bring our systems back online, we will look for opportunities to further enhance our existing security measures,” she said.

It was not immediately clear if Joplin’s outage was connected to a ransomware attack that hobbled businesses in at least 17 countries on Friday in what is the biggest ransomware attack on record.

Miami-based Kaseya officials said Tuesday they believe fewer than 1,500 of the estimated 800,000 to 1 million mostly small business end-users of its software were affected, although cybersecurity experts questioned that statement. President Joe Biden said Wednesday the damage in the U.S. appeared to be minimal but information was incomplete.

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The Joplin outage did not affect 911 emergency services, or the city’s ability to provide police, fire and emergency services, Onstot said.

However, the municipal court was not operating, online bill payments were inaccessible and some public transportation routes were changed.

Case investigations for communicable diseases through the city’s health department will be conducted on a limited basis until the issue is resolved, according to the release, but COVID-19 vaccinations were still available.

Other services such as the WIC program, temporary Medicaid applications, vital records, animal control dispatch also were available only on a limited basis.

The Joplin Municipal Airport was able to continue operating normally, the city said.